Publisher: Text Publishing, 2008
First line: She cycles the last part alone.
Sabine and Isabel had been best friends when they were young, but in high school, Isabel started hanging out with a new group of friends and Sabine became the target of her merciless tormenting and bullying. When they were fifteen Isabel disappeared one day on the way home from school. Ever since then Sabine has been unable to remember anything of that day, but now nine years later, the long suppressed memories are starting to surface.
It seems she knows more about what happened than she thought. Did she actually witness what happened? Does she know who was responsible? Why did her mind repress the memories? And is her knowledge dangerous?
Returning to her dreary job at large Amsterdam bank after a year off suffering from depression, Sabine meets Olaf, a school friend of her older brother, Robin. This contact with someone from her past, as well as an upcoming school reunion leads to more flashes of disjointed memory which slowly fill in the shadows in her past.
Sabine is initially a very sympathetic character. The scenes describing her isolation at school painfully depict the misery suffered by victims of bullying. Her return to work finds her again isolated and victimised by her supervisor. However, as Sabine reveals more of herself and her story, doubt begins to creep in. The slow building of tension as the memories fall into place ultimately leads to a somewhat unsettling ending.
Simone van der Vlugt is a Dutch writer known for her young adult novels. The Reunion is her first novel for adults, and I hope it won’t be her last.
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